Dreaming of Tony Bennett in the Backyard

I dreamed we lived in a small, one-story house, a modest little bungalow. My mom, my sister Susan, my husband Bob, and I were in my mother’s bedroom. My son and other sister’s may have been there, too — I’m pretty sure my son was, at least — but they were not in the room.

It was morning, and we were still in our pajamas. Mine were the same ones I wore to bed last night: light blue, thermal, drawstring pants with a loose, blue top with cartoon fish and other sea creatures printed on it, and black lettering that says, “Dream as Big as the Ocean.”

I had just carried in a kind of trellis my mother had asked me to get from the backyard. It was wrought iron and in the shape of a big archway. I didn’t know why she wanted it inside, though she said it was only temporary. In the meantime, we had to store it in her room, and I was trying to find a place for it. Bob had left the room to go to the kitchen, and I was wishing he hadn’t; it was heavy, and I could have used some help carrying it. Sue and my mom were directing me, but not actually helping to carry the arch.

It was too big to tuck out of the way somewhere, so I figured I’d use it as a feature of the room. It was a long room. On one end was my mother’s bed; the other end was a seating area with a love seat and a couple of comfortable chairs. I set up the arch between there and the rest of the room, to form a visual divider to set off the seating area. I noticed how nicely the arch framed the loved seat. My mother noticed too, and said she wanted to take a photo of me and Bob sitting on the loveseat, framed by the arch. But Bob was still in the kitchen, so I told her we would do it when he returned. She said she also wanted to make a video of us. We would sit on the loveseat, framed by the wrought-iron garden arch, and she would ask us questions that we would answer as she filmed us. She told me the topic of the questions, but I can’t remember it now. I do remember thinking that topic would work, that I could speak articulately and even humorously on it. I also remember thinking that it would be better to split it into two videos; there were two different aspects of the subject that would make a natural break, and two short videos would be easier to export from her phone, edit, and share than one longer one. Of course, I hate having my photo taken, but she’s my mom, so I decided I would put up with it. She wanted to start right away. I told her again that we would wait for Bob to come back from the kitchen, but she pressed, and I was about to go get him.

Then Sue, looking out the window, asked, “Why is there a man in our backyard?”

It was a secluded backyard, much like my real backyard, but flatter, with similar tall trees, but they rimmed a lush green lawn — not at all like my yard, which instead of a lawn has a patio and a hillside covered in liriope and snowdrops.

I stood beside her and gazed out the window. And sure enough, a man was crossing our lawn. “That looks like Tony Bennett!” I said.

I asked my mother why singer Tony Bennett was in our backyard. She said he was supposed to stop by to drop something off, but did not tell me what. I was mystified as to why he would leave it in the backyard instead of knocking on the front door. Maybe he was bringing a new trellis, I thought, which might explain why Mom had asked me to bring the old one indoors. But I saw no trellis, just a well-dressed elderly man, in an expensive suit and tie, with a coordinating pink pocket square. He even appeared to be wearing stage makeup.

He had been farther out in the yard, but now was crossing back toward the house; specifically, toward the side of the house to my left, where the path led through a gate that would bring him around to the front yard. He’d apparently already done what he’d meant to do, and was leaving. I could not see what he had dropped off; either it was small, or he had left it in a hidden spot. It had rained in the night, and the grass he strode through was intensely green.

“Quick!” my mother told me. “Run out front before he drives away, and bring him into the house. I want to speak with him!”

“I can’t. I’m in my pajamas!” I protested. Why was she asking me to do it? Why not do it herself? Why not send Sue or Bob?

She said I should quickly throw on some clothes and run after him. I realized there was no way I would catch him if I stopped to get dressed, so I resigned myself to running outside to confront Tony Bennett while braless, in a light blue shirt covered with cartoon fish.

I walked through the house, hearing Bob in the kitchen. The living room looked just like my grandmother’s living room on Foster Street in Old Forge. As I reached the front door, I realized I should have stopped to dress, as my mother had said — but only so that I would miss Tony Bennett entirely. I really did not want to go out there. In addition to being inappropriately dressed, I had no idea what to say to him, because I had no idea what my mother wanted with him, how well they knew each other, or what sort of relationship they had. It also occurred to me that at that moment, my mother was most likely in her room throwing on a nice outfit and trying to make herself look presentable in very little time.

It was too late for me to run back and put on real clothes. I’d been moving slowly and reluctantly, but I could not put off going out there altogether, because I had told my mother I would. As I opened the door, I heard a car start up, and felt relieved. I stepped outside in time to see that the car was a small, modest pickup truck, not at all what I would imagine Tony Bennett driving. I also noticed that there was another man in the cab with him. I was still on the front stoop when the pickup pulled away. I briefly considered running after it, waving my hands to get the crooner’s attention, but I did not.

As he left, I noticed something in the grass on the edge of the driveway. It looked like a rectangular box, about the size and shape of my three-volume Oxford English Dictionary set, the one that comes with a magnifying glass to aid in reading the teeny, tiny type. But I did not think that was what Tony had left. He would have had no reason to walk through the grass of our backyard in an expensive suit, if he had left the object here. Either this had been dropped off by someone else, or Tony had left it here in addition to whatever he had left for my mother in the back. From the front step, I could not see what it was — I was quite certain it was not actually an Oxford English Dictionary — and debated about whether I should run out there right now, in my pajamas, to retrieve it, or wait until I was fully dressed.

I called back to my mother that I’d missed Tony, and that he’d someone waiting in the car, so he probably would not have come inside anyway. And I decided I would run out to get the box right now, cartoon fish and all, because it was in the wet grass at the edge of the driveway and, whatever it was, I was afraid the moisture might damage it.

And that is all; I woke up after making that decision, and without ever learning why Tony Bennett was in our backyard and what he was leaving there.

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